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Main article: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, surrounded by rivers and hills, has a unique transportation infrastructure that includes roads, tunnels, bridges, railroads, inclines, bike paths and stairways.

Pittsburgh's steel bridges connect areas of the city across its many rivers and valleys.

Contents

Roads

Pittsburgh has a high number of freeze/thaw cycles in the winter, sometimes blamed for the difficulty of maintaining local roads. The hills and rivers of Pittsburgh form many barriers to transportation within the city.

A road sign with shields for all current three-digit Interstates in Pittsburgh: I-579, I-279 and I-376.

The main highway connecting Pittsburgh to the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-76) on the east is I-376, known to locals as the "Parkway East." The Parkway East includes the locally-notorious Squirrel Hill interchange, where unusual traffic patterns and the adjoining tunnel often cause traffic congestion. In addition, several accidents have involved tall trucks getting stuck against the tunnel roof. I-279, known as the "Parkway North," runs north of the city to merge with I-79. It connects the city with the North Hills and the Cranberry area. Also part of I-279 is the "Parkway West," which leads from downtown Pittsburgh to the Pittsburgh International Airport main terminal. The Parkway West is co-signed as United States Route(s) 22/30 and later, via the contiguous Airport Parkway and Southern Expressway, Pennsylvania Route 60. As of July 2009, the Parkway West has been partially redesignated I-376.

Unlike many other major U.S. cities, Pittsburgh lacks a dedicated contiguous beltway surrounding the city. I-76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike), I-79, and I-70 form a roughly triangular-shaped "beltway," but the distance of these roads from the city center and the need to exit and enter each leg in order to continue circling the city render them impractical as a beltway; commuters are forced to use secondary roads to go from suburb to suburb. The Pittsburgh/Allegheny County Belt System is an attempt at dealing with this without building additional infrastructure.

I-579, or the "Crosstown Expressway," is a spur off of I-279 that alleviates downtown and North Shore traffic headed north or south and to events at either the convention center or the Mellon Arena.

North of the city, the Parkway North and a short section of Interstate 579 over the Veterans Bridge have reversible high occupancy vehicle HOV lanes for rush-hour commuting. The HOV lanes require a minimum of two occupants per vehicle for use; no electric/hybrid vehicle "HOV OK" program has yet been made available. On August 25, 1995, six people were killed in a head-on collision on the HOV lanes after a highway employee opened the gates for traffic in both directions to use the HOV lanes simultaneously. The employee was later found to have been under the influence of cocaine.

Bridges

Fort Pitt Bridge from downtown

Pittsburgh is a city of bridges: over 2,000 bridges dot the landscape of Allegheny County [2]. The southern entrance to Downtown is through a tunnel and then over the Fort Pitt Bridge.

The Panhandle Bridge, a former railroad bridge, carries the Port Authority's 42S/47L subway lines across the Monongahela River. Other notable bridges are Fort Duquesne Bridge, the Liberty Bridge and The Three Sisters.

A comprehensive survey of regional bridges is at Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh, PA.

Airports

The city is served by Pittsburgh International Airport in suburban Findlay Township, Pennsylvania, formerly a hub and Key Focus City[1] for US Airways.

General aviation is served by the Allegheny County Airport. Its terminal is of a 1920s art-deco design. It once hosted Charles Lindbergh and handles 139,000 private and corporate-jet flights a year.

Mass transit

Local public transportation is coordinated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County, or "PAT," the 14th-largest urban mass transit system in the United States. The system services 730 square miles (1,900 km2), including all of Allegheny county and portions of Armstrong, Beaver, Washington, and Westmoreland counties [2]. PAT maintains a network of intracity bus routes, two inclines on Mt. Washington above Downtown (mostly a tourist attraction rather than a means of commuting), and a light rail/busway system. PAT discontinued its commuter rail system in the 1980s.

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Light rail

A light rail vehicle departs Station Square and prepares to enter the Mount Washington tunnel.

PAT's light rail network is a direct descendant of Pittsburgh's original streetcar system, which once numbered dozens of lines and included interurban routes to neighboring cities (such as Washington and Charleroi). The current network comprises five routes on 25 miles (40 km) of track, operated by modern articulated light rail vehicles. Although most of the system operates on dedicated right-of-way, including the Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel, trains still street run in the Mount Lebanon neighborhood. Once across the Monongahela River trains enter a subway to serve Downtown Pittsburgh. While the current network serves the downtown and South Hills area only, an extension will link the system to North Shore by 2011.

Bus

A typical PAT transit bus sign.
Pittsburgh's Greyhound station

PAT operates over 800 buses on both standard routes and bus rapid transit routes. The latter use high-speed articulated buses that run at grade and above ground on their own right-of-way with platform stations, much like a rail system. In some instances, such as the Mount Washington tunnel, these buses travel along paved sections of the light rail line. There are currently three routes: the South Busway, which runs from downtown to the southern part of Allegheny County, the Martin Luther King Jr. (East) Busway, which runs from the Amtrak station to the eastern suburbs, and the West Busway, which serves the western suburbs. Future plans for the bus rapid transit system include extending the West Busway to the Pittsburgh International Airport.

All light rail/busway stations outside the downtown have PAT station shuttles that serve the surrounding neighborhoods, and sections of the metropolitan area not served by the light rail/busway system, including most of the northern suburbs, have regular PAT bus routes. For commuters from the outer suburbs in Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington, and Westmoreland counties the mass transit systems of those counties operate their own commuter shuttles to and from the city.

Bicycling

Pittsburgh has a thriving cycling community despite steep hills and variable weather. Efforts have been made to incorporate the bicycle into the transportation system. The Three Rivers Heritage Trail encompasses all the trails in the city. The Eliza Furnace Trail, known locally as the "Jail Trail", stretches from Downtown (at the Allegheny County Jail) to the East End region of the city, where trail access can be found along some roads. The North Shore Trail spans from the Alcosan plant along the Ohio River and continues along the Allegheny River to Millvale. The Southside Trail follows the Monongahela River and currently ends in Baldwin Borough, but plans are underway to connect to McKeesport, completing the Great Allegheny Passage. This trail, in connection with the C & O Canal Trail, will form a continuous off-street trail from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. PAT has installed bike racks on some buses and it allows bikes on its subway/busway system during off-peak hours. Bike Pgh! is the local bicycle advocacy group and is working to make Pittsburgh safe, accessible, and friendly towards bicycle transportation. The non-profit bike collective,Free Ride, recycles bicycles and bike parts, teaches bicycle construction, and has programs to sell or earn a rebuilt bicycle. Additionally, bicycles can be borrowed at two places along the Heritage Trail through the Friends of the Riverfront/Dasani Blue Bikes program.

Inclines and staircases

Public staircase in Pittsburgh, ca. 1940

Two inclines ascend Mount Washington: Duquesne Incline and Monongahela Incline. Pittsburgh once had considerably more inclines [3] and the Monongahela Incline was once paralleled by a freight incline.

Pittsburgh has more public staircases (737) than any other city in the United States, followed by Cincinnati and San Francisco.[4] Many of these staircases have street names, and lead to hillside neighborhoods that can be difficult to access by car in winter.

Tunnels

Notable tunnels include the Armstrong Tunnel, Fort Pitt Tunnel, Liberty Tunnels, Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel, Squirrel Hill Tunnel, and the Wabash Tunnel.

Railroads

The city has Amtrak intercity rail service at Union Station and various freight railroads.

During the height of Pittsburgh's steel-making days, the city had many passenger and freight rail connections to railroad main lines. Many of these lines are still used for freight. With the backing of former Mayor Tom Murphy some railroad lines have been converted into multi-purpose trails, which have been rather popular.[5]

Current railroads in Pittsburgh include:

Class I railroads

Norfolk Southern (NS)

Norfolk Southern operates the former assets of Conrail, composed of the assets of the Pennsylvania Railroad, instrumental in the formation of modern Pittsburgh. NS operates three lines through Pittsburgh:

  • the original line, the Pittsburgh Line, from U.S. Steel's Edgar Thomson Steel Mill in Braddock, PA, over the Allegheny River near Downtown Pittsburgh, into Island Ave Yard where it becomes the Fort Wayne Line;
  • the Mon Line, along the south shore of the Monongahela River from West Brownsville, PA, to Island Ave.Yard, formerly the Pittsburgh, Virginia and Charleston Railroad, used by coal trains from southern Pennsylvania and trains with over-height cars that cannot fit under the roof of Penn Station on the Pittsburgh Line, accessing it via the a branch to the Port Perry bridge just east of Braddock. The Mon Line joins the Fort Wayne Line at Island Ave Yard after crossing the Ohio River over the Ohio Connecting (OC) Railroad bridge;
  • the Conemaugh Line, along the north shore of the Allegheny River, serving several coal branch lines and power plants. Operations are centered around a small yard in Etna, PA. On the Mon and Pittsburgh lines over 60 trains a day pass through the city.

CSX

CSX operates the former assets of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad (P&LE). Many of the old B&O lines have been removed or are unused. Formerly an important part of the B&O system, Glenwood Yard is leased and operated by the Allegheny Valley Railroad for local jobs. The yard used to give access to the B&O's Grant Street Station in Downtown Pittsburgh. The building has been rebuilt into a PNC Bank building and the old right-of-way is now a bike path. The B&O main line, which cuts north and under across Pittsburgh by using the Panther Hollow Tunnel, is now used by the AVR. The bridge over the Allegheny River is still used: AVR trains connect with Norfolk Southern's Pittsburgh Line about a mile east of Penn Station. CSX freight trains use the former P&LE through McKeesport, PA, and Braddock, PA, before crossing the Mononghela River into Homestead, PA. The P&LE line and the Mon Line run side by side until the Mon Line crosses the Ohio Connecting Railroad Bridge at McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. On an average day, the P&LE line carries about 30–35 trains.

Amtrak

Two trains serve Penn Station: the Pennsylvanian to New York via Philadelphia; and the Capitol Limited between Washington, D.C. and Chicago, which uses CSX from Washington to Pittsburgh's outer perimeter, the AVR through the Panther Hollow Tunnel in the university district, and NS from the AVR interchange through Penn Station to Chicago.

Shortlines and regionals

References

  1. ^ "USAirways USA Route Map." USAirways route map. Retrieved June 1, 2007.
  2. ^ "General Statistics". Port Authority of Allegheny County. http://www.portauthority.org/PAAC/CompanyInfo/GeneralStatistics/tabid/68/Default.aspx. Retrieved 2008-11-02.  
  3. ^ "Inclines Listed by Location" Bridges and Tunnels of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Retrieved May 2, 2007.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ "Forum: Stay hot on the trails." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 2, 2007.

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